The University of York’s Jewish Society (Jsoc) has urged that YUSU disaffiliate from the National Union of Students, saying that the NUS fails to represent or protect the welfare of Jewish students.
Jsoc has put forward a strongly worded statement which attacks the NUS for not protecting the welfare of Jewish students as “one of the smallest religious minorities on campus” and for not giving a voice to them or “millions of other students left unheard due to a lack of a democratic voting system”. It makes reference to numerous issues that the society has with the NUS, and attacking it as heading in the wrong direction, and urging students to vote to disaffiliate.
The statement was read out in part at the referendum debate on 31 May. Among the issues cited is the lack of a Jewish representative on the NUS committee for anti-racism and anti-fascism (the role was removed last year), and the opposition that a motion to commemorate Holocaust memorial faced at the 2016 NUS conference.
The statement also mentions incoming NUS President Malia Bouattia, and controversial statements that she made prior to her election, as reasons that “Jewish students struggle to feel included or welcome in whatever plans she has for the National Union of Students”. Bouattia’s had stated that the University of Birmingham was a “Zionist outpost”, and had made references to “Zionist-led media outlets”. She has apologised for the wording, which was attacked by some commentators as anti-Semitic.
The NUS admitted to having problems with anti-Semitism, repeatedly said it will tackle it, and repeatedly failed to do so
Incoming YUSU sabbatical officer and ‘No2NUS’ campaign representative Alex Lusty, said: “We do not want to play political football with such a sensitive issue.
“However, the letter speaks for itself. The NUS has since the eighties repeatedly admitted to having problems with anti-Semitism, repeatedly said it will tackle it, and repeatedly failed to do so. This cannot go on and we cannot sit idly by while our own Jewish society is telling us that their position is intolerable.”
The Yes to NUS campaign, when asked for comment, stated that it “totally condemns anti-Semitism. We believe that the best way to fight anti-Semitism in British society is to be part of a strong NUS, with its record of actively opposing fascism. We also believe that issues of anti-Semitism arising in the NUS are best dealt with by a strong and united internal resistance, led by Jewish students of all backgrounds and political beliefs.”
It also stated that “we welcome Malia’s apology for the wording she used when discussing Birmingham” and emphasised the direct involvement of Jewish students within Bouattia’s election campaign, adding that it was clear that Jewish students had numerous different opinions on the NUS.